Purple & Green
(late june. number 31.)
This was the best spring we've had in Portland, weather-wise, in many years.
In contrast to the splendor of April and May's crisp but mild days decorated with vivid greenery and beautiful perennial flowers, however- June was a little dreary. The old "June-uary" talk was going around.
On the day of this Secret Restaurant, the weather was in line with this mode- more than half of our scheduled guests cancelled in the hours leading up to the event due to everything from getting lost to rain-influenced mild sickness, to family emergencies. We forged on, having an intimate yet mildly extravagant dinner with a few friends by candlelight.
Lucas and I felt like it was a nice way to check in with how the project is going, feeling with this dinner like we were able to attend Secret Restaurant Portland as guests.
Here in June 2012, we start indicating produce grown by us on our large kitchen garden/small urban farm plot by "S.G." for SECRET GARDEN.
Our home-brewed 'Charles Brown Ale'
A nutty, well-balanced brown in pop-top old school bottles. Letterpress labels designed and printed by me. See the last picture!
An heirloom spinach called Galilee (S.G.), used in abundance with just a touch of cream and cracked black pepper. Topped with an italian style mashed potatoes/egg mixture to create a sort of raised, browned top, like a souffle. We bought some of the potatoes, found one or two insufficient, and so pulled up one of our potato plants and used the tiny new potatoes to fill out the dish.
Served with a flower-cut enormous radish (S.G.), kissed with sea salt.
Plain, simple, and warm. Perfect for a rainy early summer evening.
Dark red & bright green salad
Dark, dark red leafed lettuces (S.G.), dressed simply in olive oil/dash of white wine vinegar/cracked pepper/lemon salt. Topped with delicately opened english shelling peas (S.G), the casing of which were filled in with deep, rich (fancy, expensive) balsamic vinegar, matching the lettuce and complimenting the crisp sweetness of the peas. Shavings of a spanish semi-hard goat's cheese recommended by the cheesemonger at City Market. I'd tell you what it's called, but saving cheese wrappers is never something I actually remember to do. And if I did, I'd be one of those people who saved cheese wrappers, and so on.
Smoked trout cappelletti in broth, with greens
A recipe by Alice Waters, interpreted more closely than we usually do, from Chez Panisse Pizza, Pasta, & Calzones (I recommend this book highly. More so than many of the Chez Panisse cook books. So much inspiration for simple but memorable weekday suppers). Fresh pasta triangles stuffed with caramelized shallots, smoked trout, and lemon thyme. Cooked gently in prepared fish broth (trout and broth from Newman's, our usual). Served in bowls with the broth and garlicky/buttery white russian kale (S.G.) and wilted edible chrysanthemum (S.G., a celery-ish slap to its taste).
White currant cheesecake with early summer fruits
The first thing that must be noted about this cheesecake is that we actually made the graham crackers which made up the graham cracker crust. And in order to get the right taste, we made two kinds- dark and a light, then pounded them together.
Rolling with the idea of the creamiest, fluffiest cheesecake being the most ideal to pair with lip-smacking, tart fruit, we made an unbaked style filling, with whole milk, caster sugar, sour cream, and cream cheese.
It was topped with a batch of white currant jam that I made last year from the white currant bush in South East Portland that we gleaned from for the ice cream featured in dinner #21, which we certainly intend to use again this year.
The cheesecake was served with an intensely pureed sauce of gooseberries and honey, as well as some dark Rainier cherries and some early-Sylvan berries, straight up.
Paired with a Riesling.
Also of note: the photo on the menu is by Aria Mikkola-Sears